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By Julie Pukas
• Aug 17, 2018
Head of US Bankcard and Merchant Solutions

These days, more and more small businesses are operating from homes, on-the-go, or on digital platforms. A recent study from Intuit and Emergent Research found that the number of gig economy workers is expected to jump from 3.8 million in 2016 to 9.2 million by 2021.

As the gig economy continues to flourish, banks are no longer serving as simply credit card payment processors, but strategic partners with teams dedicated to helping small business owners (SBOs or merchants) in new and innovative ways. They are identifying the right point of sale (POS, or the time and place where a transaction occurs) systems to serve as a one-stop shop, offering a full suite of products and tools to help businesses run more efficiently. In today’s fast-paced work environment, an efficient and multi-faceted POS system is essential for success.

In fact, many SBOs are moving away from traditional hardware devices like cash registers and instead turning to cloud-based POS systems that not only allow remote access, but also offer ongoing software updates, extensive storage capabilities and comprehensive analytics at competitive rates. According to a recent survey by TD Bank at the New York Business Expo, a quarter of SBOs use a cloud-based POS system, which may be a more cost effective and convenient option than traditional devices.

Building Brand Loyalty

Modern POS systems aren’t just glorified cash registers; these devices can clock in employees, monitor inventory, track data and analytics and organize loyalty programs, leveling the playing field for small businesses to better compete with larger, more tech savvy retailers.

For example, a traditional loyalty program for a small business might be a simple punch card. Yet, as big retailers and restaurants continue to deliver comprehensive digital loyalty programs, SBOs must look to more sophisticated offerings for customers. With 29.6 million small businesses in the United States, creating a loyal customer base is more important than ever. And customers want to be brand loyal. According to Accenture, 77 percent of consumers participate in a retail loyalty program, 46 percent have joined a hotel program and 40 percent are part of an airline program.

More Than Just Payments

To stay competitive, SBOs will be looking for more than just payments processors. Lucky for them, merchant solutions providers who can do it all – from customer service to innovative technology and loyalty capabilities -- are becoming more and more accessible to businesses of all sizes.

A version of this story originally appeared in PaymentsJournal.

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